As many as 105 women go missing every day and 17 get trafficked every week in Maharashtra, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2019. Nationally, the state records the highest human trafficking and missing women cases, followed by Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal.
As per a report in Mumbai Mirror, of the 989 victims of trafficking, 88% were women and 6% were children. People were trafficked for various reasons such as bonded labour, organ trafficking, drug peddling, sexual exploitation, forced marriages etc. In case of Maharashtra, the reason for 95.6% of the trafficking was sexual exploitation through forced prostitution, data showed.
Moreover, instances of women going missing in 2019 versus 2018 has increased by 13%. Maharashtra was not even in the list of top 10 states recording the highest number of missing children in 2018, but is now in the fourth rank nationally for registering 4,562 children missing. Of them, 55% were girls. Having a vast network of red-light areas in the three major metros of Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur, the state is a source, transit and destination point for sex trafficking.
In addition to the metros, there are several small and medium-sized red-light areas thriving across the state. Even though the country has a marginal dip of 0.7% in abductions and kidnapping cases, the crimes against women are rampant in Maharashtra. The state stands second in registering high abduction cases in 2019, after Uttar Pradesh, with an increase of 1.9%.
“The unfolding of COVID-19 in the first quarter of the year severely impacted the vulnerable segment in our society. Lack of economic growth opportunities and basic necessities aggravated the process of them being targeted by traffickers. Source states are affected the worst,” said Ranjit Singh, a human rights specialist from Delhi.
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